Health insurance statistics

Is health insurance worth the expense?

The perks of private health insurance include having a wide choice of treatments, bypassing waiting times and having a more comfortable hospital experience.

We found that, despite the benefits of health insurance, only a small proportion of UK citizens are covered. We’ve looked into how health insurance costs have increased over time, how they fare compared to the most popular insurances and why health insurance might be worth looking further into.

Quick facts

  • The average premium for UK private health insurance is £1,435 per year
  • Over half (53%) of the UK population admitted they would pay for private healthcare treatment
  • 13% of UK consumers claim to belong to the Private Medical Insurance scheme

The average spend on insurance premiums in 2019 by type

Most people will own more than one type of insurance, with the majority of the 1,046 respondents here reporting to have at least car, home or contents insurance.

Type of insurance Percentage
Car 63%
Home 55%
Contents 50%
Life 35%
Private health 13%
Accident 11%
Legal expenses 9%
Statuatory health 7%
Personal liability 6%
None of the above 13%
Other 8%
Don't know 2%

Private health insurance is the fifth-most owned type of insurance, with 13% of respondents saying they have it. Car insurance is the most popular insurance type due to it being mandatory for the vast majority of all drivers, while private health insurance is costly and often covers treatments that are also provided for free by the NHS.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) of health insurance over time

CPI is a statistical estimate based on the weighted average of a group of items in a certain market. CPI essentially indicates how much something costs compared to other products or services. Over a 11 year period from 2008 to 2019, the CPI for health insurance has shown steady but consistent growth, to peak at 121 in 2019.

Year CPI
2008 65
2009 68
2010 75
2011 80
2012 86
2013 92
2014 97
2015 100
2016 107
2017 112
2018 116
2019 121

The increased CPI indicates that health insurance has steadily increased in price over the last 11 years. The average year-on-year increase in price for health insurance over this 10 year period is 6% per year.

The expense and waiting times for common medical treatments

We’ve ranked six medical treatments based on the cost of the treatment and the average waiting time for the treatment on the NHS. Both knee surgery and hip replacement surgery are good examples of when a person would save both time and money by being covered by private health insurance.

Treatment Cost of private treatment Average wait time on NHS
Knee replacement £11,814 13.5 weeks
Hip replacement £10,776 13.5 weeks
Cataract surgery £2,410 12.4 weeks
MRI scan £1,298 2.6 weeks
Skin lesion removal £940 6.5 weeks
CT scan £870 2.2 weeks

With private health insurance costing just over a tenth of the cost of the two replacement surgeries (£1,435 a year), which also demand that you wait around 13 weeks for the treatment under the NHS, you can see how health insurance can appear to be the more desirable option. The scans, on the other hand, cost a similar amount to an annual health insurance payment and require only a 2-week wait under the NHS.


Office for National Statistics

Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Matt Mckenna
UK communications manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806

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